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The most original portions of this volume stress the importance of Democratic appeals to northern black voters. The story of that appeal is one of extensive and sincere Democratic efforts to cater to northern Negroes, of a growing awareness among Negro leaders of the advantages to blacks of a divided black vote, and of many instances of Democratic support and Republican betrayals of the principles of racial justice. Throughout the North, often it was Democrats who led in distributing patronage to blacks, in appointing black policemen and public officials, and in supporting civil rights legislation at the state and municipal level. Clearly the lapse of time, changed conditions, and the rise of new leaders had contributed to a decided shift in the racial views of many northern Democrats. Legislative voting records reveal a correlation between the extent of Democratic concessions to blacks and the presence of black voters, urbanization, and the absence of southem-born whites. Grover Cleveland's winning of the presidency in 1884, however, soon exposed the limitations inherent in the Democratic position. Although Cleveland was a racially progressive Democrat, his party's strong adherence to the principles of states' rights totally discouraged executive action in behalf of southern blacks at a time of increasing racial tension and oppression. Republican electoral gains in 1888 and 1890 further exacerbated racial conflict when Republicans made new efforts to furnish federal protection of civil rights, and during the presidential election of 1892 united Democrats openly resorted to racism as a major campaign weapon. The effectiveness of that weapon encouraged both its continuing utilization by the Democrats and Republican inclinations to abandon the Negro. Despite its moderating impact on the racism of northern Democrats, the New Departure had not been a defeat for white racism. Rather it was a clever strategic adjustment that strengthened the Democrats and undermined whatever equalitarian promise radical Reconstruction had held. Otto Olsen Northern Illinois University Freedmen, Philanthropy, and Fraud: A History of the Freedman's Savings Bank. By Carl R. Osthaus. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1976. Pp. 257. $10.95.) It is ironic that the nation's declining interest in black history should be accompanied by the publication of an increasing number of outstanding monographs and historical studies in the field. Carl Osthaus 's account of the ill-fated Freedman's Bank of the Reconstruction era is a case in point. Freedmen, Philanthropy and Fraud is not 281 282CIVIL WAR HISTORY without weaknesses. Nevertheless, it is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the nineteenth-century concepts of thrift and moral uplift—and how they proved inadequate when faced with the challenges of the equally powerful ethos of nineteenth-century speculative greed, incompetency and dishonesty. With the enthusiastic support of a coalition of businessmen, philanthropists and various humanitarians, the United States Congress chartered the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company in March of 1865. For the next nine years, the bank would spread from its original office in New York through branches into thirty-six towns and cities of the nation. Altogether more than 100,000 Americans— most of them former slaves—showed their allegiance to the traditional American value of thrift by depositing their meager savings in the new bank. By 1873, deposits totalled more than $4 million, small by the standards of the major banks and savings institutions of the day, but large when one considers that it was based upon the accumulation of a people removed from slavery less than eight years. From the outset, however, the Freedman's Bank faced a number of drawbacks. Foremost was the problem of poverty. Throughout its history, notes Osthaus, the Freedman's Savings Bank was a "poor company seeking to establish itself in a poor land among poor people who had a wealth of needs." At the same time, the "philanthropic" purposes of the bank created additional handicaps. Bank branches were often established in response to community requests even when there were not enough depositors to meet the administrative costs of the branches, for the Freedmen's Bank was initially designed to encourage racial uplift through thrift and savings among the free population of the South. Earnings were a secondary consideration. Finally, for philosophical and practical...


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